Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Evangelism and Environmentalism

I know it's been a while since I've posted, but I wanted to let you know a little bit of what is on my mind and heart lately. Creation has been a very important subject to me for a long time. My understanding and interpretation of the book of Genesis, among other sources, leads me to the conclusion that we are to be stewards of God's Creation. Dr. Len Sweet puts it as we are to "conserve and conceive." I think we can all probably agree that in the United States, we are getting more and more disconnected from nature, and I would argue that as we disconnect from Creation we grow farther from the One who Created it.

In my recent travels, I have spoken with a great variety of people about environmental issues, often those revolving around how animals are treated. People choose to enter this conversation and issue in different ways. Some choose to be vegan, some choose some sort of vegetarian diet, some choose other types of diets (there is a really cool movement of people called "ethical omnivores"), and there are people that connect with nature through hunting, fishing, trapping, etc. There are so many disagreements between these people, and with those who put little time or attention into caring for creation, and this is a problem. 

In my lifetime, I have seen evangelism attempted mostly by argument. People focus on what they disagree about and try to convince the other of his or her point. I believe that effective evangelism starts at the point of agreement and I always try to practice it that way. The first thing we should always be doing with someone different than us is to find out what we agree on. The environment is a huge issue that can and should be resulting in agreement between the Christian being a good steward of creation, and the Atheist/agnostic/pagan environmentalist. There is so much work to be done together and yet, the focus regularly seems to be on where we disagree. Methods of caring for creation vary greatly and sometimes even contradict one another. However, we are really on the same side and want the same things in many ways. Here are some things we can do:

1. Acknowledge our responsibility and practice caring for God's creation in whatever ways we can.

2. Care about what is happening to and in our world around us.

3. Talk to others about how you care for creation and discover how they do it. (Always use the language of the other, so they can understand that you are talking about the same thing)

4. Connect with nature as often and in as many ways as possible.

As a theologian and as someone that lives on this planet, I don't think it's ok to ignore this issue, nor do I think we can afford to fight about it anymore. We live in a time where our children aren't able to connect with nature in the same way that we were and it's going to be even worse for their children. From the very beginning God has been trying to connect with us through Creation. Let's go meet God there!

Thursday, December 06, 2012

New Podcast

My partner in crime and in ministry, Gil Flores, and I have started a podcast. We aren't good at it yet and I don't think you can subscribe or anything at the moment until we figure that out, but give it a listen and let us know what you think.

  New Podcast

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Artisan Church


I saw this picture recently and it made me think. The images of school and work are even outdated. But our image of church is often behind even those images. In "contemporary services"we try to do what I call "arena rock"church that probably fits into this picture well. These ideas are moving forward however and we can't just do a better arena rock show. We must always be moving and adapting. In the music world, arena shows are getting more and more rare. Now the trend for a big show is in festival form where  you have many different bands playing shorter sets. How can this apply to the church? In the business world we have more and more people working from home and commuter campuses and buildings and location are less important. Things are becoming more local and more global at the same time. Dr. Leonard Sweet coined the term that I have been looking for these last few years. He calls the next kind of church the "artisan church." We have artisan bread at fast food chains, artisan coffee, artisan shops, etc. The idea is that these things come out of the local community and are unique to it. The franchise church will be around for a long time, just as the franchise business will, however new businesses are following more of an artisan model, while the church continues to try to build a franchise. I think we can do both, I think we need to do both. John Wesley did both when the United Methodist Church began, or to be more accurate, it was the very idea that birthed the United Methodist movement out of the Anglican franchise. Let's move into the future together as we respond to God, our heritage, and to the world around us.

Friday, February 24, 2012

We don't need no thought control...

Two of the industries that are behind the curve of our culture are also, in my mind, two of the most important. I am talking about the American Church and the American Education system. I know that there are a lot of different things going on all over the world, and I seriously think that we have a ton to learn from all of that. However, I am much more familiar with what is going on locally and I have only the ability to influence that. This video is about American Education but it doesn't take much effort to apply it to the church as well. (It's a little long, but totally worth it! Trust me!)




So if we are behind, we have 2 options... or 3 I guess. The first one, that I want to avoid at all costs, would be to just stay behind the culture and become voiceless and irrelevant. If we do nothing, this is the road we will be on. The other 2 options are to try to slowly change the current system/congregations or to start a new form of the industry with the new DNA in place. If we don't do enough, we are in danger of becoming like the first option, and if we try to do to much we can predict the future wrong or be ahead of our time. I believe we are called to lead the culture and to create culture so to be ignored or to be unimportant to the world around us is to fail. So what can we do to change the culture of our institutions and change the culture of the world? And how can we create new ways of being the education or church industry, while creating the DNA of future?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Ancient/Future

Times are changing and as the cultures continues to move forward we have no choice but to pay attention and learn from the world around us as we help to create the culture of the future. If the Church is behind the culture, the culture will certainly not be looking to the church for guidance into the future. The Chipotle Restaurant recently put out a great video that illustrates where the world has come and where it is going.



We must learn from this and see what direction the world is moving in and we must embrace it as the Church as we strive to move forward. We have to look back past the 1950's, the 1920's, the 1800's the 1700's to the Ancient World to learn about how to adapt to the future world. History cycles and we are in the middle of a cycle. The current cycle we are in goes back farther than what we remember. Phyllis Tickle writes in her book, "The Great Emergence," that every 500 years or so the culture goes through a kind of yard sale where we get rid of some things but we find treasures in the attic that we forgot we had. We must embrace the ancient past and adapt it to the future to have a voice in what the future is gong to be. Let's look back to discover and create the future together!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Stories Developing Next 2 the Tracks #5

Lately, I have encountered a lot of people who claim to be atheist and who reject the very idea of God or even a higher power. Many of these people have had very difficult religious experiences growing up so their idea of God is very different than mine. To be honest, I don't believe in the God that was presented to them either. What I find is that it is very difficult for these people to reframe God or to think of God in a different way than what was taught to them and what was used to control and even abuse them in some cases. I believe that we are called to be part of the healing process in these situations and not just try to convince them of something different. Healing comes from within and as people heal they can begin to think about things differently. While people are hurt, it is very difficult, if possible at all to convince them of a different reality with arguments. The model of evangelism we have encountered in the Age of Reason has been to convince people of God instead of loving people to God. Doing evangelism this way is difficult because we don't receive instant gratification and often don't ever see the results of our effort, but in my experience it has been the most effective way to help someone know God's love and grace. As we celebrate Advent and soon, Christmas, let's prepare a place for God by loving those around us in the best ways that we know how.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

indie bands and indie churches

Lots of cool things seem to happen in Deming, NM. One time when we played there we met these two guys. We were talking music with them and one of them was a musician. We were asking them what they liked and they were saying that "indie" music was where it's at. That word can mean so many different things we asked them to say more about it. The general idea that was communicated is that "indie" bands don't sell out or compromise their art. I think this is something that is changing. More and more people seem to appreciate self-expression over quality or popularity. This is a tension for most bands if not all of them, to express themselves and create art and find a way for that art to be popular. The diversity of the world is making it possible for a niche artist to reach a niche audience. Popular music is getting less and less popular as people are finding the things that really move them, or even more important, people are supporting artists that they have a relationship with. There are plenty of mainstream bands, just like there are plenty of mainstream churches. Perhaps the culture is lending itself to "indie" churches right now as well. Maybe the focus of a band shouldn't be to be popular or mainstream, but to express themselves in a way that connects with people though the art and through relationships. The same is true of churches, mainstream churches can connect with or start what can be called "emerging churches." This kind of church is missional, relational and incarnational. It will look completely different depending on the people that make it up and the talents they share as well as the community it exists within. These churches are popping up with increasing frequency all over the country and the world. The connection of the mainstream and the indie may be the key to the future of the church as well as the future of the music industry.